He’d last seen Pennyroyal Green in the dead of night almost five years ago. His trajectory since then had been as swift and mindless as if he’d been shot from a cannon. And it wasn’t just because of what Olivia had said to him in the garden after midnight, in the pouring rain. Though after she’d said what she’d said, for a time he’d stopped caring what became of him.
No, that fuse had been lit for longer than anyone knew.
No one from Sussex had seen him since.
Though one had certainly tried. He half smiled at the thought of Violet.
And it was this that had broken the speed of his trajectory.
And he’d had his own methods for remaining, however tangentially, informed about the lives of those he’d left behind. He’d proved something over the past five years. He’d at first thought it was all for Olivia. But he was no longer certain. He’d tried to purge his life of her, relinquishing even her miniature.
Clearly it hadn’t worked.
But what no one knew, not even his crew, was that this was his final voyage. He’d risked this trip into London to track down the source of a little mystery that could devastate Olivia and her family.
He now had his answer.
He was, strangely, not surprised by it.
But he hadn’t been prepared to make a decision about what to do next so soon.
Oh, Liv, he thought.
Suddenly it hurt to breathe. Fragments of memories rushed at him, each distinct as stained glass.
Olivia walking along the road to the Duffys’ house, then breaking into a run when she saw him waiting beneath the elm tree, her face lighting like a star. As if even a second away from him was wasted.
That was the memory that always came to him in his darkest moments.
And now she was giving herself to another man.
His fingers curled on a surge of emotion. But he stopped just short of giving the message the crushing it deserved.
She. If Lavay had indeed written that word, he might have seen her, or even talked to her, or …
He couldn’t do it.
He couldn’t bloody do it.
And this is what decided him.
He tucked the message into his coat. “You can go, Ramsey,” he said. “Thank you.”
The footman spun and nearly bolted, silver braid glinting in the sun.
Lyon turned to face all the expectant faces of his crew.
“And we,” he told them, “are staying in England.”
It was time for a reckoning.
Julie Anne Long originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up, and she has the guitars and the questionable wardrobe stuffed in the back of her closet t prove it. When playing to indifferent crowds at midnight in dank clubs lost its, ahem, charm, she realized she could incorporate all of the best things about being in a band—namely, drama, passion and men with unruly hair—into novels, while at the same time indulging her love of history and research. So she made the move from guitar to keyboard (the computer variety) and embarked on a considerably more civilized, if not much more peaceful, career as a novelist.
Julie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with a fat orange cat. (Little known fact: they issue you a cat the minute you become a romance novelist.)